The hefty tome The Support Economy by Shoshana Zuboff and Jim Maxmin is a challenging but rewarding read, describing in detail the rise of distributed capitalism. Of all the big ideas of the last decade, the concept of business and society being driven by connected individuals and small groups is one of the most powerful, and Zuboff has arguably captured better than any.
From an even broader perspective, the biggest strategic issue in almost every industry today is the erosion of industry boundaries. Every industry is encountering new competitors: from adjacent industries, from start-ups with lower entry thresholds, and from substitutions.
At the same time, the strategic opportunities to stretch beyond your existing positioning have exploded, giving an extraordinary premium to the flexibility to take advantage of these openings.
Zuboff has a nice article in the current issue of McKinsey Quarterly, titled Creating value in the age of distributed capitalism (registration required), summarizing some of her key ideas, focusing on the idea of “mutations” in business and capitalism.
At the end of the article she provides a useful list of 7 circumstances in which mutations can destroy the boundaries of industries:
1. The products or services you offer are affordable to few but desired by many.